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Hoe

Hoe

Israel, 1200-586 B.C.E.
  • Iron: wrought
  • Height: 1 3/4 in. (4.5 cm) Length: 6 1/2 in. (16.5 cm) Width: 2 1/2 in. (6.4 cm)
  • The Jewish Museum, New York
  • Purchase: Archaeology Acquisition Fund, JM 12-73.366
  • Digital image © 2006 The Jewish Museum, New York Photo by Ardon Bar Hama
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Hoe

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The hoe has been used as a basic agricultural tool for thousands of years. A hoe is used to dig up weeds and break up the soil before planting seeds.

The hoe shown here may look peculiar, with a hole in the middle of it. But if you imagine a long handle (like a broom -handle) inserted into the hole, perpendicular to the flat edge of the tool, it might look more familiar. This hoe is made from iron (notice the build-up of rust all around it), but its handle was wood. An iron handle would have made the tool too heavy to wield, and only the end of the hoe (seen here) needed to be especially durable in order to break up the hard, rocky soil of the Canaanite hill country. Wood, however, is an organic material, and under most circumstances completely decomposes over time. Therefore, the iron blade of the hoe is all that was found by archaeologists.

By the end of the second millennium BCE, iron tools had become increasingly common throughout the Near East. This was the beginning of the Iron Age. Iron ore (bits of iron mixed with other minerals) was always abundant in the earth’s surface, but the iron only became widely used once people learned how to melt it at a very high temperature in order to remove the impurities. After the impurities were removed, an iron smith could reheat the metal and pound it into the desired shape.

Discuss:

  • What do you notice about the shape of this object? What does the shape remind you of?

  • Describe the color and texture of this object. What material do you think it is made of?

  • This object once had a long wooden handle inserted into the hole. Does that information help you imagine how this object might have been used? Why do you think archaeologists never found the wooden pole?

  • Do people still use tools like this today? How?

  • Why do you think the ancient Israelites made the blade of the hoe out of iron, but made the handle out of wood?


Jug

Jug

Strainer Jug

Israel, 1000-700 B.C.E.
  • Clay: wheel-turned, pierced, slipped, hand-burnished and fired
  • Height: 9 3/16 in. (23.3 cm) Width: 5 15/16 in. (15.1 cm) Depth: 9 1/8 in. (23.1 cm)
  • The Jewish Museum, New York
  • Gift of Joy Ungerleider, JM 233-68
  • Digital image © 2006 The Jewish Museum, New York Photo by Ardon Bar Hama
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Jug

Strainer Jug

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Strainer Jug

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Strainer Jug



The function of this clay object may not be immediately obvious. The vessel is about 10 inches high and equipped with a handle, and the area near the spout is perforated like a colander.

If the spout were meant for pouring, however, the handle would be opposite the spout instead of next to it.

This jug may have been designed instead for straining liquids, such as unrefined beer, which was full of straw and other impurities. Users would have poured the beer into the jug through the spout, so the debris caught by the strainer would remain outside. (If the strained debris were captured on the inside of the jug, it would have been very hard to clean out.) One could then drink or pour the strained liquid through the mouth of the jar.

Although there is no textual evidence that the Israelites brewed beer, they did grow barley (the main ingredient in beer), and beer-drinking was known among their Philistine, Mesopotamian, and Egyptian neighbors.

Discuss:

  • Take a close look at this spouted jug. What do you notice about its shape? What does it remind you of?

  • Some people think this object looks like a watering can. Imagine you are using it as a watering can. What aspects of its design would make it less than ideal for that purpose?

  • What material do you think this object is made of? What makes you say that?

  • What do you think people might have put inside this container? How might it have been used?

  • Use specific observations as evidence to support your ideas.